Viral Spiral: How the Commoners Built a Digital Republic of Their Own

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New Press, Jan 1, 2009 - Computer networks - 596 pages
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A stunning narrative history of the emergence of electronic "free culture," from open-source software and Creative Commons licenses to remixes and Web 2.0-in the tradition of Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture.

A world organized around centralized control, strict intellectual property rights, and hierarchies of credentialed experts is under siege. A radically different order of society based on open access, decentralized creativity, collaborative intelligence, and cheap and easy sharing is ascendant. -from Viral Spiral

From free and open-source software, Creative Commons licenses, Wikipedia, remix music and video mashups, peer production, open science, open education, and open business, the world of digital media has spawned a new "sharing economy" that increasingly competes with entrenched media giants.

Reporting from the heart of this "free culture" movement, journalist and activist David Bollier provides the first comprehensive history of the attempt by a global brigade of techies, lawyers, artists, musicians, scientists, businesspeople, innovators, and geeks of all stripes to create a digital republic committed to freedom and innovation. Viral Spiral-the term Bollier coins to describe the almost-magical process by which Internet users can come together to build online commons and tools-brilliantly interweaves the disparate strands of this eclectic movement. The story describes major technological developments and pivotal legal struggles, as well as fascinating profiles of hacker Richard Stallman, copyright scholar Lawrence Lessig, and other colorful figures.

A milestone in reporting on the Internet by one of our leading media critics, Viral Spiral is for anyone seeking totake the full measure of the new digital era.

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About the author (2009)

David Bollier is an author, activist and independent scholar of the commons. He is the author or editor of twelve books, including four on various aspects of the commons. He is co-founder of the Commons Strategies Group, an international consulting project, and co-founder of Public Knowledge, a Washington advocacy group for the public's stake in copyright and Internet policies. Bollier is also Senior Fellow at the Norman Lear Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, winner of the Bosch Prize in Public Policy at the American Academy in Berlin (fall 2012), and a long-time rapporteur for the Aspen Institute.

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